The first Bank Holiday games of the season are upon us and after your terrific support in two games on the road, we’re back at home for the first of this weekend’s double-header.
It’s been two more hard-fought draws at Dagenham and Maidenhead that shows the spirit and belief we have here. I’ve said elsewhere that I believe we should have a couple more points on the board with the way we’ve played but no complaints from me, it’s been a solid start on the pitch that we now must build on as September approaches.
But we’re a new team in a new division and we’re not even out of August yet so I am happy that we’re getting a good grounding, competing and adding points on the board and that will develop as the months go by.
We’ve taken four points from six at home and it’s important, of course, that we get off on the right foot, score first and not have to chase games. Conceding first makes it that much harder, particularly at this level against teams who are all decent, solid outfits. But we’ve done it time and again, without key players, and it shows unbelievable character. I just don’t want us to keep having to do it the hard way!
In terms of our defensive injury crisis, we’ve made repeated attempts to recruit our main target and that may or may not have resolved itself by the time you read these notes. It’s been close a couple of times and it has been a little frustrating at this time of year, but it’s something we can only keep plugging away at.
Jack Connors and Kenny Clark missed training on Thursday but hopefully had some involvement yesterday. Dean Rance did train and we now need to work on his match fitness.
Today will be Sam Magri’s final game before he departs for international duty. On behalf of all of us at the club, I’d like to wish him the very best of luck. We support Sam totally in his international commitments, it’s a brilliant achievement for him and his family playing against England and Scotland and everyone at Ebbsfleet will, I’m sure, watch the international matches with a keener eye this coming week. Of course, we knew about his matches for Malta well in advance and it’s something that wasn’t an issue at all on signing — it’s great for him and for us as a club. Our defensive problems at the same time are just an unexpected twist of fate and it’s the injuries that are the real blow to us.
As we were short on bodies for Tuesday’s Kent Reliance Senior Cup game, 372 of you had the added treat of seeing myself and Stacy Long roll back the years! Quite apart from being a runout for the pair of us, it is actually a useful exercise for me at the same time, seeing things pitch level alongside the players who otherwise I observe only from the sidelines.
I’d like to welcome Gateshead and manager Neil Aspin to Stonebridge Road this afternoon. Neil knows this level well and has great experience and his side will play plenty of football as well as being a big, physical challenge for us this afternoon. Players like Russell Penn are typical of the kind of experience and talent Gateshead have recruited and it will be another good test of our squad.
Enjoy this afternoon’s game and I hope as many of you as possible are up for another go in 48 hours for the trip to Dover. See you then!